University Sees Food Waste As Resource

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COLUMBIA, Mo., Dec. 29 (UPI) — Researchers at the University of Missouri say they hope to develop a system for turning uneaten food from the school’s dining halls into fertilizer.

Tim Reinbott, who runs the Bradford Research Center farm on the school’s Columbia campus, says he wants to make use of the tons of food thrown away every year.

About a million pounds in food discarded by students and scraps left over after food is prepared is disposed of by the university’s dining system, he said.

“That got us thinking,” Reinbott told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Maybe we can do something with this?”

So Reinbott, along with other university employees and several students, devised a closed-loop food system — a process that recycles food waste into fertilizer, which in turn is used to grow food.

In the dining hall, food scraps are ground up then delivered to the farm for composting into fertilizer.

In the spring, the fertilizer will be mixed into soil in the farm’s vegetable beds, eliminating the need for nitrogen fertilizer, which is expensive and major source of agricultural pollutants.

“We’d been interested in composting and being as green as possible,” Reinbott said. “And that’s how this idea came about that we could do something with this waste — that we could compost the waste, grow the vegetables using the compost, and then the food would go back to the dining halls, in a complete circle, with students involved all the way.”

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